Morning in Murfreesboro

The morning name on the 26th: Murfreesboro TN. The Court House downtown, with its notable clock tower and the statue of (Confederate Gen.) Nathan Bedford Forrest in front:


Basic facts, from Wikipedia:

Murfreesboro [30 miles southeast of Nashville, pretty much right in the center of the state] is a city in and the county seat of Rutherford County, Tennessee. The population was 108,755 according to the 2010 census … It is Tennessee’s fastest growing major city and one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Murfreesboro is also home to Middle Tennessee State University, the largest undergraduate university in the state of Tennessee

No idea why the city’s name came to me on the 26th, but the city is notable in my mind for two things: its role in the (US) Civil War, and a much more recent nasty controversy over the construction of a mosque on the edge of town.

More from Wikipedia:

On December 31, 1862, the Battle of Stones River, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, was fought near the city between the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Confederate Army of Tennessee. This was a major engagement of the American Civil War. Between December 31 and January 2, 1863, there were 23,515 casualties [about half the figure for the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest of all the battles]

That battle is where Nathan Bedford Forrest comes in:

Nathan Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877), called Bedford Forrest in his lifetime, was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He is remembered as a self-educated, brutal, and innovative cavalry leader during the war and as a leading Southern advocate in the postwar years. … He served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, but later distanced himself from the organization. (Wikipedia link)

Forrest remains a lightning-rod figure to this day. (In a nice bit of ironic naming, the main male character in the wonderful 1991-93 tv series I’ll Fly Away, set in the American South and addressed to issues of race relatioms amd civil rights, was Sam Waterston’s district attorney, named Forrest Bedford.)

Now the truly recent controversy, one of a number of ugly stories about the treatment of Muslims in my country. From Wikipedia:

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) is an Islamic community organisation located in the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States. Established in the early 1980s, the ICM supports about a thousand congregants, drawn from local permanent residents and numerous students at Middle Tennessee State University.

Since the late 20th century, an increasing number of Muslim immigrants from Somalia and Iraq have settled in the city, and international students have increased. By 2009, the ICM’s growth made the existing mosque and community center in central Murfreesboro inadequate for the number of worshippers using those facilities. The ICM bought a vacant lot on the outskirts of the city and submitted plans to build a new community center and mosque on the site. Although the plans were approved unanimously by the local county planning commission, some local residents and anti-Islamic activists opposed the project. Rival demonstrations were held in the town to express support for and opposition to the mosque project.

During the following two years, the mosque site was subjected to vandalism and arson. The ICM became the subject of heightened political rhetoric in an election year. Numerous opponents alleged that the ICM would support terrorism, that Islam was not a religion, and that it was a plot to overthrow the US Constitution and impose Sharia law. At the same time, numerous local people and rights groups spoke out in support of the project, and the issues received national media coverage with emphasis on the US constitutional right to religious freedom.

[After various legal delays:] The mosque was allowed to open in time for the end of Ramadan in 2012. Further appeals and new lawsuits by the mosque’s opponents prolonged the litigation until June 2014, when the last lawsuits were finally dismissed by the federal courts.


One Response to “Morning in Murfreesboro”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    My great-grandfather’s younger brother Jacob Southwick lies in an unmarked grave at Stones River, where he died 31 December 1862. He was in the 13th Michigan Infantry Regiment.

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